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OKC Needs To Get Physical

The Oklahoma City Thunder looked like they were a shoe-in to go to the NBA Championships when we watched them throughout the season.

Under the leadership of Kevin Durant, who marched a Michael Jordan scoring record during the season, the Thunder were going to go the NBA Championships or, at the least, compete for the Western Conference title.  It was a pretty safe bet to make.

However, the Thunder now find themselves with their backs against the wall. The Memphis Grizzlies are up 3-2 in the series and most shocking of all, they are shutting down Durant.

It was the fourth consecutive overtime in this hard fought series in which Memphis snatched the lead.

How did they do it? DEFENSE.

Everyone knows that the Grizzlies are a defensively talented team, but they were not supposed to give OKC this much a of a run for their money, let alone eliminate them.

They are holding Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant well-below their average field-goal percentages on the season.

The Thunder like to play a fast paced offense and the Grizzlies physical defense has grinded it to a near halt.

Largely, the Grizzlies can thank Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince for their success in this series. They have taken turns guarding Durant and their style is taking a toll on Durant who recently admitted to ESPN that part of his problem is that he is over concerned with Memphis’ defense.

“I’m worrying about a guy coming from behind trying to block the shot. I’ve just got to focus in on the rim and my shot. I can’t go out there and think too much, I have to let my instincts take over.”

The Thunder have a lot to overcome. Game 6 will be in Memphis, where they will have the momentum and the energy of the crowd working against them.

The Grizzlies have the Thunder fearing their physicality. Durant, in particular, user his height more than muscle to get to the basket and the Grizzles are knocking him around taking his height advantage out of the equation.

If the Thunder want to avoid elmination tonight, they are going to have to match Memphis’ physical defense, with an equally physical offense.

The Thunder are the favorites to win this one with a –3 point spread. The game starts at 8 p.m. ET and you can watch it on TNT.

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